Proud to be MACS: April 2022

Below are remarks from he April Board of Education Business Meeting at Mexico Middle School on April 7, 2022. They were delivered by board Vice President Darlene Upcraft and written by President James Emery.

Ashley Cobb, April 2022

There is a saying that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. On a couple of occasions, life gave tonight’s Proud to be MACS recipient, Ashley Cobb, 3rd grade teacher at New Haven Elementary her share of lemons. Fortunately for our District, Ashley turned those lemons into the sweetest of lemonades.

Ashley was born in New Jersey but moved to Orwell, New York as her dad was an avid fisherman. Sadly, the first batch of lemons for Ashley occurred when her dad passed at an early age.

Ashley overcame this emotional blow and would graduate from the  APW Central School District in 2005.

While attending Utica College, from which she earned a degree in criminal justice, she became the youngest employee in the New York State Attorney General’s Office under then Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo.

Unfortunately, life gave Ashley another batch of lemons when she became a victim of the 2008 recession.  As a junior staff member with the Attorney General’s Office, she did not have the seniority to retain her position when budget cuts were instituted.

At the suggestion of her husband, Ryan, who at the time was Dean of Students at APW and who recognized the need for qualified substitutes, Ashley turned to substitute teaching.

The combination of subbing and a recognition that she had a passion for nurturing and protecting children from her past experience in law enforcement led Ashley to make some more lemonade by returning to college and in 2013 Ashley obtained her Masters Degree in Childhood Education for grades 1-6 from SUNY at Oswego. 

It should be noted that while pursuing her Masters Degree, Ashley worked full time with a mental health and substance abuse clinic. She said that she gained valuable training and experience that has been most useful, especially over the past couple of years.

Also, Ashley could not say enough about her field placement and student teaching experience with Kathy Fischer at Mexico Elementary during her Masters program. She spent some 15 weeks with Kathy and believed that she learned from the best!

Along the way, Ashley and Ryan were blessed with daughter, Harper and son, Declan.

After serving as a long term sub at the Mexico Middle School and a teaching assistant with the Onondaga, Cayuga, Madison County BOCES, Ashley joined our District as a teaching assistant in 4th grade at Mexico Elementary. Like her experience with Kathy Fischer, Ashley thoroughly enjoyed and gained valuable experience working with the 4th grade team.  In 2016, Ashley came to New Haven as a full-time 3rd grade teacher where she remains today.

Referring to fellow New Haven teacher Cheryl Barbeau’s nomination, Cheryl writes, “I am nominating Ashley Cobb for Proud to be MACS because she goes above and beyond for our school and students. Ashley is a member of our school’s leadership team and is an active participant in carrying out leadership activities and projects. Her latest was helping with the Leader in Me hallway sensory path. Ashley has also stepped up this year to become our Parent Teacher Club President.  Even with all the extra work that goes along with being a teacher during these difficult times dealing with COVID, Ashley has found ways to keep the PTC active for kids with things like:  projects and goodie bags sent home with kids, virtual meetings, virtual readers from birth, virtual dance parties, etc.  Ashley puts in so many extra hours helping to put together these goodie bags and planning/holding virtual PTC meetings.”

When asked her favorite part of the job, Ashley emphatically stated it was her students, with emphasis on “her”, as she feels she retains a little piece of each and every one of her students even as they move on to the higher grades.

As for her favorite memory, it involved working with a particularly challenging student who didn’t seem to want to make reading a priority.  Ashley, however, did make reading a priority and kept encouraging the student to read, especially Harry Potter. (Ashley happens to be a huge Harry Potter fan!)  Ashley was overjoyed to receive a text from the student’s mom the following year showing the student in bed with a Harry Potter book.  Ashley had indeed succeeded in passing on the love of reading to a student - a most noteworthy success!

Returning to Cheryl’s nomination, she writes, “On top of all the extras she does at school, she is a good role model for being healthy and being a mom to a beautiful family as well.  I think with all the extra time and work Ashley puts into school, she should be recognized.  I know I appreciate all she does for our school and students.  I love Ashley’s ability to get things done and her positivity as well.  She is a treasure to our school!”

And so Ashley, for being able to make lemonade out of life’s lemons, for being nurturing and protective of our students, for being persistent with them, especially in the area of reading, for being an active member of the leadership team at New Haven, for keeping the Parent Teacher Club active and relevant even during COVID by serving as its President, for being a good role model of leading a healthy lifestyle, for being a mom to a beautiful family, but most importantly for going above and beyond for our school and students and being a treasure to our school, it is a well deserved honor that we, the Board, recognize you as our Proud to be MACS recipient for April 2022.

Ashley Cobb